Friday, March 18, 2011

Lolita in Black & White

The black and white color scheme is one of Lolita's most infamous color combos. To some, black and white is the quintessential Lolita, to others it is an instant faux-pas, and to many it is a very nostalgic color combo. I've seen a lot people instantly write off black and white dresses, even of very good quality, simply because of the color combo, which is incredibly unfair. While black and white might be a bit played out at times, there's no reason why it should be avoided at all costs. In fact, there are a lot of different ways you can wear the color combo to create a few different kinds of looks, from Sweet and ruffly to Gothic and elegant.

Black & White's Bad Rap

Two traditionally Ita black and white dresses. The first one a classic lace monster, the second, it's nega-even-eviler twin. Seriously, WTF is up with that second one?
Cheap Ebay dresses labeled as "Lolita" sort of ruined black and white for a very long time because they were just that bad. The skirts were often mini-skirt length, the construction and materials usually horrible, the designs too over done and not well thought out, and they tended to be covered in yards-upon-yards of the cheapest lace possible. Soon enough, for most people anyways, just staying away from all black and white dresses became something of a reflex, and even nicely made black and white dresses made people sort of shudder. People just wanted to distance themselves from the look. Which is really a bit sad, because there are a lot of different ways that black and white can be really gorgeous.

Black & White, the Right Way

Top left, Bodyline; top right, Anna House, even offbrand black and white can be nice!; Bottom left Mary Magdalene; bottom right Baby the Stars Shine Bright.
There are lots of ways that black & white can be made to look good! The easiest way is simply to to look for dresses made of good materials. White lace stands out really well against black, so if the lace is cheap, it's going to be very noticeably cheap. That doesn't mean that only brand dresses in black and white are going to look nice! There are many off brand black and white dresses that look fantastic! You just have to look for ones made with nice materials and lace.

Different Ways to Wear Black & White
A black dress with white lace, or even a white dress with black lace certainly isn't the only way to wear black and white color combos! That that may be the most "traditional" way to wear the colors, there are still many other ways you can combine the 2 colors.

Keep the two colors separate.

Both Mary Magdalene
A sure fire way to wear black and white, especially if you're unsure of lace quality, is to wear either separate pieces of all one color, or a dress that keeps the colors separate. The two pictures above are from over-dress type pieces, but a similar effect can be achieved from wearing an all white blouse with an all black skirt or JSK.

Black & white prints.
Left, Moi Meme Moitie, a black and white print that was recently going for auction for around $1200!; Right, a rare and very sought after Innocent World print. Not all black and white = cheap!
If you like the style of black and white, you can always go for a brand print. Brands often release prints in black and white colorways. It's a very simple color combo, but it's always very striking! Black and white prints are often used in Classic and Gothic pieces because the color combo is usually very elegant. But, it's also often used on sweeter prints to give them a simple, yet cute, charm.

Black & white fabric.

Left, Angelic Pretty; center, Baby the Stars Shine Bright; Right, Mary Magdalene
Another option, instead of having a custom brand print, would be to have a dress with a black and white all-over patterned fabric. To me, black and white stripes are just to die for, and I think they are one of the ultimate Gothic styles. But, polka-dots (both big and tiny!), plaid, gingham, and even classical florals are all options for black and white fabrics! Because there are so many different kinds of black and white fabrics, they can really create so many different looks! Sweeter prints in black and white, like polka-dots and gingham, can tone down a Sweet and make it look almost retro. Classical florals in black and white can make a Classic Lolita dress much more versatile and can easily slip between Gothic and Classic and sometimes can even be worn as nice formal wear in the real world.

Appliques, embroidery, and other embellishments.
Left, pretty white pearls decorate this Angelic Pretty dress; Right, Innocent World often uses embroidery on their pieces.
There are also a number of things you can do to a plain black dress to add some white to it. Appliques, embroidery, pearls, ribbons, and anything else that you can decorate a dress with can be used to add some white to it! You can even add white with some clever coordination in an otherwise all black outfit. A pair of black and white harlequin tights are a current favorite way to add some white to an outfit, but a long string of pearls, a white detachable bow attached to the waist or neckline, replacing any corset lacing with white ribbon are all simple ways to add some interest to a plain black outfit! If you're really daring and creative you can even sew on some of your own pearls or do your own embroidery.

For me, black and white is a very nostalgic and elegant color combo. It's definitely one of my favorites, and it's always a bit sad when people instantly write it off as being Ita even when it's made of very nice materials and has a cute design. Black and white can be a lot of things, it can be cute, or elegant, or mysterious, or OTT, but it doesn't always have to be Ita!

What are your thoughts on black and white dresses? Does it make you cringe a bit? Or does it make you want it for your own? If you love it, what are your favorite ways to wear black and white? Perhaps you're a more traditional Lolita and you love a black dress decorated with white lace, or maybe you prefer a delicate and elegant print?

6 comments:

  1. Personally I love black and white, its one of my favourite colour combinations for pretty much any style, from lolita to cyber goth. The badly done dresses are truly awful, but the good ones are beyond stunning.:3

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  2. Personally, the black dresses with white embellishments are my favorite. :3.
    I remember that when I first saw the white "dress" with black lace, I had no clue what it was supposed to be. If you hadn't told us what it was, I probably would have assumed it was a sack or something.

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  3. -swoon- That Antoinette MM dress is my current sought after dress. First in black, then the white version. I didn't even consider black and white as a possible undesirable combo. They're contrasting but neutral, and you can add in a 3rd colour for a bit of pop.
    -sigh- Now I'm already planning accessories in my head to go with that Antoinette dress T_____T

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  4. Black and white is one of my favorite combos (also white and red)^^" It's also easy for me to find matching accessories because if it was pink or another color, it might be lighter or darker than the dress. hehe

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  5. I actually like black and white combo, but because of the ita reputation of such color combo. For this reason, if I see a cute black fabric x white lace dress I always look for an all black version.

    "Keep the two colors separate." - this was a very good tip. A solid white blouse, with a solid black JSK, white socks and black shoes would look very nice put together imo.

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  6. I love the black and white combo so elegant, but yeah if done in shitty material results will be shitty, I also find that white on black much easier to get 'right' than black on white!

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